What’s better than one person giving us the warm holiday fuzzies? “Oh, like, 3? That’s better, right? Like, off the top of my head, that sounds like the better amount of people for spreading holiday cheer.”
Well, guess what? We’ve got that exact amount of people here to spread some mid-November happiness and they are all amazing romance authors. Samantha Chase, Nicole Helm, and Terry Spear are our guests today and we are overjoyed to have them.
Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday. I always enjoyed it while I was growing up, but it wasn’t until my husband and I moved away from our family that I truly started to LOVE it. I loved being able to start our own traditions and we really found our groove on that right away. One of my favorite things to do is decorate the tree. I’m a lunatic with that. We get a live tree every year and we sort of make it a family competition to see who picks out the best tree on the lot. The very first year Frank and I were together, we had nothing for our tree except a box of hand-me-down ornaments my dad and stepmom gave us. Every year since then, we’ve added to our collection.
When the kids were little, we did a lot of the Hallmark Keepsake ornaments and then we did a Disney ornament-of-the-month thing for about two years. Now I tend to just add one a year and it’s almost to the point that we don’t have room on the tree for everything that we have! The tree has a Disney theme – and if you know me, that’s not surprising! – and whenever I go to Disney World, a Christmas ornament is my must-get souvenir.
We definitely have foods that we only have at Christmas. Our Christmas Eve tradition is that we have a traditional Italian fish sauce for dinner. Seven different kind of fish in a red sauce. I have to admit, it’s not my favorite, but my husband and sons LOVE it. It’s a lot of work and I’m totally fine with just having it once a year. LOL! They look forward to it to the point of talking about it non-stop for the entire month of December. On Christmas morning, we have pepperoni omelets for breakfast. I’ll admit, I cheat and make these at random throughout the year, but they’re a must-have on Christmas morning after we open our presents. And my husband has learned to bake his family’s Christmas bread. For years, he only had it when we saw his parents. After we moved away, it was something he really missed. So he got the recipe from his mom and now he bakes it himself.
And our final tradition that I absolutely LOVE is our Christmas Eve dessert open house. We live in a very transient area. There’s a Baptist Seminary up the road and so a lot of people who live here only come for school and then move. So we open our doors on Christmas Eve to everyone who doesn’t have family to spend it with. They bring a dessert to share and we all hang out and it’s a wonderful time of fun and fellowship.
Butter. My favorite thing about the holiday season is buying a million pounds of butter and making everything delicious out of it. I kid, I kid. Mostly.
Though I do love the baking (and all the butter) involved, my favorite thing about the holiday season is seeing a lot of people I only get to see once a year, and celebrating with things and food we usually only engage in once a year. In my family, we go to at least seven different houses, five different cities, two different states over the course of the week of Christmas to visit all the family we can.
It’s a ton of driving, but that’s part of the fun too. We listen to Christmas music in the car as we go here, there, and everywhere. The kids snooze in the back or play with their new toys. I sneak a cookie or two from my legion of treats to donate to the meal we’re going to. Bing Crosby croons White Christmas one too many times and my husband tries to put ‘normal’ music back on (he never wins, though sometimes I can be persuaded away from Bing).
When we reach our multitude of destinations, we see parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and their kids, nieces (a first for me this year!).I always make Kringla, plenty of cookies, and Swedish Rye Bread to take to different houses, and we get to sit and eat these once a year treats while catching up and enjoying each other’s company. I get to see my kids play with my cousin’s kids, just like my cousins and I used to play growing up. I love tradition, so seeing the same ornaments on everyone’s tree year after year, the same decorations and stockings, never fails to make me smile. Sharing memories of Christmas past and making new memories with my little guys is such a joy.
By the end, we’re always exhausted, maybe a little ready for some quality alone time, or some food without butter (for maybe one meal tops), but fulfilled and happy and full to the brim with holiday spirit (and butter, never forget the butter).
Family time! This is the second year we’ll have Christmas with both my son, and my daughter and son-in-law. My son was serving in Afghanistan for two years with the Air Force and so that’s what’s most important to me—family time. My daughter just informed me she’s pregnant, so Christmas after next we’ll have a new little pack member to add to the mix of my two dogs, their two dogs and my son’s dog. One big, happy family for the holidays. Nothing could be better. Decorating, making turkey, and baked goods, watching Christmas movies, playing board games, and just visiting–that’s what it’s all about. Of course, the gifts are fun–both giving and receiving. But most of all, making Christmas memories and taking pictures to capture those memories is what’s so special. Just like with my wolves or jaguars. In all my stories, I try to show this because it’s so important to me. I had the same tradition with my parents, who I was close to and the memories continue to carry on long after they were gone.
Long after my dad died, a decade even, my mother didn’t want to bother with decorating for Christmas. She had always loved decorating for the holidays. And so after decorating my home, I ran over and helped her with hers. I didn’t want her to miss out enjoying the holidays because it was just too much work to put up the tree.
Even Everett, the jaguar shifter hero in A Very Jaguar Christmas, was glad he’d decorated for Christmas. Not only because it made him feel good when he came home from a day of work, but because he’s got a special guest coming to have dinner with him, and she’s someone he’s wanted to get to know forever.